Science Fiction Technologies that People are Hoping for in Their Lifetime

I asked people from Facebook, reddit, and the meta.scifi.stackexchange.com what science fiction technologies they really wanted to see within their lifetime that they believed were achievable. Immediately some people forgot about that last little requirement, but that is okay. The few who gave estimates were in the 25-50 years time-frame. Few people explained why they wanted a certain technology, so I had to infer their intentions using wit and cynicism.

Space Travel – We gotta get off this rock.

  • Mars Mission / Colony – You’d think 45 years after landing on the moon we’d already be permanently stationed there and going to Mars. What happened to our future?
  • Cheap Access to Space – Why only rape the Earth of its natural resources? There is a whole Solar System out there, people.
  • Asteroid Mining – I’m looking to get my hands on the literal Silicon Valley.
  • Space Elevator – It’s what Michael Scott called ‘the big ride’ in The Office (S1:E3)
  • Anti-Gravity – America’s solution to morbid obesity.
  • Interstellar Spaceflight – Once the Solar System is ours, the whole universe will be ours.
  • Worm Hole Generator – Find out just how terrible living in the movie The Event Horizon would really be.

The thing I like about space travel is most of this stuff doesn’t sound like science fiction, it is just a matter of investing billions (or trillions) and hoping it pays off.

Advanced Computers – Life is too boring.

  • Artificial Intelligence – The supporters were keen to mention it would be a ‘friendly’ A.I.
  • Iron Man’s (or Mass Effect’s) Holographic Computer Interfaces – I hate physical contact with everything, even computers.
  • Virtual reality – Finally, the ability to commit murder using all 5 senses instead of the 2 you get from today’s limiting video games.
  • Artificial Artist – I’m not really sure what this is, but I guess we could finally free up all those starving artists out there so they can do something they truly love.
  • Sex Bots – I have nothing to say.

We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t make killer robot police? – Dave Barry. Don’t worry Dave, we are totally going to make them friendly.

Healthcare – What I like to call ‘fear of death.’

  • Starship Trooper’s Full Integrated Prognostics – Cyborgs of the future unite.
  • Full Body Regeneration – The K12 from Better Off Dead just made my bucket list.
  • Star Trek Medical Tricorder – This device can tell you when you are going to die, but modern science can’t do anything about it.
  • Elysium’s Health Care – All conditions can be diagnosed and treated; eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you will be cured.
  • Mind Uploading – Transcendence and Lawn Mower Man are apparently not cautionary tales.

Death isn’t so scary if you believe we’ll have technology to talk to the dead later (see The Insane).

Transportation – When I travel, I want it to be exciting.

  • Back to the Future 2’s Hoverboard – Because skateboards need to be more dangerous.
  • Jet Pack – I’m pretty sure Budget has already mastered this.
  • Flying Car – Because everyone is good enough to become ace pilots.
  • Self Driving Car – I promise not to crash if you wash me regularly.

There are two kinds of people, those who believe traveling is too dangerous, and those who believe it isn’t dangerous enough.

Manufacturing – We hate blue collar jobs.

  • Replicators – Say goodbye to even the premise of a healthy diet.
  • Nano Tech – Big projects just need lots of little solutions.

Energy – Save the planet.

  • Back to the Future 2’s Mr. Fusion

Only one person mentioned cheap clean energy. Personally, I see that as the technology that allows for all the other stuff. A new abundant energy source means we can finally build autonomous robots, and then we can upload our brains into them and live forever. With everlasting life, traditional space travel just becomes an exercise in not being bored, cue the virtual reality (which will be easy, since we are robots). Everything falls into place when we get a Mr. Fusion or a Tony Stark miniaturized Arc Reactor.

The Insane

  • Talking to the Dead – That’s a technology? Okay.
  • Pleasure Gun – I have nothing to say.
  • Bender Robots – I guess a robot would have to be crazy to wanna be a folk singer…

Review: Iron Man 3

I finally saw Iron Man 3.  Better late than never, right?

I’m actually not so sure.

The movie wasn’t bad, but it definitely wasn’t good.  I really liked the original Iron Man, and felt that Robert Downey, Jr. had really nailed the character of Tony Stark. Iron Man 2 was a bit of a disappointment, but Mickey Rourke’s performance was a redeeming factor. Iron Man 3, however, had no comparable standout performances.

I don’t mean to detract from Ben Kingsley’s acting abilities; indeed, he did an admirable job.  Similarly, I cannot fault Guy Pearce in his portrayal of Aldrich Killian.

Rather, I place the blame on the characters themselves.

While I admittedly am not intimately familiar with the comic book series, I know enough about the franchise to have been very interested in seeing The Mandarin introduced as Tony Stark’s latest nemesis.

The Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley
Nice shades!

The Mandarin, as depicted in Iron Man 3, is a total dud.   To say the character lacked depth is a massive understatement.  The buildup of mystery and menace the movie endeavors to enshroud him in is deliberately and intentionally sacrificed as a major plot device, yet the result of that sacrifice is the revelation of a far lesser menace.

It is clearly supposed to be a surprise twist (I am trying to avoid spoilers), yet the only surprise seems to be “hey, guess what?  The situation is not nearly as interesting as you thought it was. Bet you never saw that coming!”  Yay?

The other major character introduced is Aldrich Killian.  He’s intended to be a brilliant mind in his own right, and the very beginning of the movie clearly shows that the character is supposed to be a foil, and potential antagonist, to the flamboyant genius and showmanship of Tony Stark.  However, the character turns out to be remarkably one-dimensional, and his motivations and overall role turn out to be decidedly generic.

The titular character also lacks the depth seen in the previous titles.  Clearly there is intent to add depth, by highlighting Tony Stark’s insecurities and emotional sensitivities, yet it seems that either the true character-building elements were largely cut from the final production, or what exists was tacked on as an afterthought.

Within the first 20 minutes of the movie, it is established that Tony is having some residual problems from the events at the end of The Avengers.  These problems crop up a couple of times during the movie, yet are never actually resolved in a meaningful way.  Instead, it’s just “stuff he’s dealing with”, and doesn’t really accomplish anything towards adding depth to the character.

Indeed, it feels like it may be tacked on strictly to provide some links to The Avengers, which appears to be a common theme in Marvel Studios’ recent titles.  It seems like they are trying to bring the same breadth and depth to the Marvel Universe on screen that the comics enjoy.  However, instead of meaningful cross-over appearances and side stories that play integral parts of individual story arcs, as seen in many of the printed titles, they are peppering the movies with just enough references for someone who has seen the other films to say “oh, yeah… I know what they’re talking about.”

Unfortunately, this also means that those who have not seen the other films will just find the references confusing or uninteresting.

The movie itself does have some redeeming qualities.  In particular, we are treated to lots of explosions, and some eye-catching special effects.  The confrontation at the conclusion of the movie attempts to incorporate some of these special effects in a meaningful way into the plot, but it doesn’t really make up for a somewhat anticlimactic battle.

The basic plot, however, is somewhat interesting, and we do see some interesting characters along the way.    Harley Keener, played by Ty Simpkins, was perhaps the standout of the movie, and I found the scenes with him better than most of the dialogues with the more prominent characters.

The fight scenes were well-coordinated, and the abilities of the protagonists are both eye-catching and distinctive.

All in all, I found the movie to be a significant disappointment.  It failed to achieve the appeal of the preceding entries in the series, and certainly fell far short of the bar set by The Avengers.

Tony Stark sitting next to his Iron Man suit.
Yeah, it’s that exciting.
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